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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 17th Oct 2022 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Jamie Oliver ‘learned from collapse of restaurant chain’ and ‘ready to go again’: Jamie Oliver has said he has learned from the collapse of his restaurant chain in 2019 and is ready “to go again”. Oliver last week launched delivery focused pasta concept Pasta Dreams in partnership with Taster, the delivery-first restaurant group. This after Oliver's international restaurant business and franchise partner, Gerry Fitzpatrick, opened his long-awaited second Dublin venue, which has originally been due to open in April 2020. With openings in Dubai and Cyprus too this year for Jamie Oliver Restaurants, and further territories being explored, the chef's restaurant chain is building back from the 22 closures and 1,000 job losses it suffered in the UK three years ago. Speaking to PA about if he'd learned from what happened, Oliver said: “Yeah, for sure, and every other failure that I've had – which is about 50%. But I've never been more rounded, I've never been more experienced. It happens, and I would call it a minor blip really, in the vision and the dream. A very painful one. But definitely, I'm better for it. We had 13 amazing years and learned loads. I was a young man when I started, I'm much older and wiser now. It was never a size problem, it was rent and rates that got us really, and high street decline.” Starting with pop-up spaces in London's Soho and Paris, Oliver has ambitious plans for Pasta Dreams to be rolled out across London and other UK cities at a rate of two sites a month. “It's definitely different,” he said of the new venture. “The service behind the scenes has finessed, and it's designed specifically to travel. Certain things travel well – curries, noodle ramen dishes – while certain pasta shapes and sauces won't taste as good after a bumpy 20-minute journey on a bike.”

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Galbani Professionale launches national campaign to help operators tackle midweek slump: Lactalis Professional has partnered with National Chef of the Year 2022 semi-finalist, Charlotte Vincent, to help boost midweek sales for pubs and restaurants, with an Italian-inspired campaign centered around the Venetian tradition of cicchetti. Ciao Cicchetti will showcase the versatile range of Galbani Professionale products, part of the Lactalis Professional brand portfolio, to create inspiring cicchetti dishes targeting a wider market. Vincent, who has just been appointed as the new head chef at Restaurant Meudon in Falmouth, said: "I'm delighted to be working with Lactalis Professional and providing a solution to a problem we're all facing in the industry. Cicchetti provides a middle ground of meeting up over a drink accompanied by small, satisfying side dishes that can be tailored to suit any appetite or budget.” Rory Larkin, Lactalis Professional development chef, added: “The concept of cicchetti ticks many boxes that consumers are looking for and provides solutions to a number of challenges UK chefs are currently facing.” To learn more about how Ciao Cicchetti can boost your venue's trade, click here for your free Ciao Cicchetti guide and follow @lactalisprofessional_uk on Instagram where you can win an overnight stay with dinner for two in Vincent's new restaurant. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com.

Alex Reilley to speak at final Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2022, three free places per company for operators: Alex Reilley, co-founder and chairman of Loungers, will be among the speakers at the final Propel Multi-Club Conference of 2022, which takes place on Thursday, 10 November, at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in London, and is open for bookings. The all-day conference will focus on “new ways of working”. Reilley will discuss what comes next for the 200-strong listed company, as it cements its position as one of the UK's leading hospitality businesses and continues to play a key role in reviving the high street. Operators can book up to three free places per company by emailing jo.charity@propelinfo.com.

Number of hotel operators set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies: A number of hotel operators are among the 28 new multi-site companies being added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday, 28 October, at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, features Interesting Hotels, which was founded and owned by West Midlands businessman Roger Hancox, and operates seven sites across the UK. Also added this month is independently owned hotel company, Crimson Hotels, which is headed by chief executive Alykhan Kassam, and operates ten sites in the UK. In addition, Jupiter Hotels, which is owned by S Hotels and Resorts, and currently has 29 UK sites under the Mercure and Holiday Inn brands, will be featured. Premium subscribers will also receive a 2,000-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. The database now features 2,677 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the next edition of the New Openings Database on Friday, 4 November, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The next edition also includes a 5,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel's library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector's finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.

NTIA – energy costs intervention 'too little too late' with 70% of businesses still at risk, Budget must not be delayed: The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has said the government's energy costs intervention is “too little too late”, with 70% of sector businesses still at risk. Following the announcement of the Business Energy Bill Relief scheme last week, the NTIA conducted a survey of around 300 sector companies, asking about the effects of both the relief scheme and the mini-Budget on their business. It revealed 70% would still either barely break even or lose money with the new government support package of tax cuts and energy relief. Half of all businesses said they would not last more than three months without further support from the government, and a similar number said they are still seeing higher rates for electricity under the relief scheme. One in three are seeing more than a 200% rise in electricity despite the support, with just under one in five seeing a 300% increase compared with 2021. Michael Kill, NTIA chief executive, said: “It is clear the mini-Budget and business energy relief scheme, even with recent amendments, has left businesses confused and worried for their future. With businesses still subject to large increases, the subsequent drop in consumer spend has crippled many hospitality and night-time economy businesses. The golden quarter is one of the key trading periods for the sector, where we build cash reserves to sustain the slower months of January and February. If we do not get a meaningful intervention in the form of a VAT cut and business rates relief to aid us through this period, we will see a catastrophic failure of businesses as we move into 2023.” Meanwhile, following the departure of Kwasi Kwarteng as chancellor, the NTIA has told the government it must not delay the full Budget, scheduled for next month. “A new chancellor will need time to get up to speed with current policy decisions, time which the night-time economy and hospitality sectors do not have,” Kill added. “The government must not delay the upcoming Budget, or they will see thousands of businesses and jobs lost before the end of the year.”

Compass Group to help staff with debt: Compass Group, the world’s biggest catering company, is planning to offer to merge any high-interest debts of its 50,000 staff in the UK and Ireland to give them lower interest rates. Dominic Blakemore, chief executive of Compass Group, told the Sunday Times it was “critical” to support its workers through the cost-of-living crisis. He is introducing several other schemes, such as salary advances. “For those who are most concerned, most at risk of hardship, it’s what we can do to help,” he said. “We’re leveraging our credit rating and financial strength to allow our employees to consolidate their debts at lower interest rates.” The scheme will allow staff to apply to merge their existing debts from any form of short-term lending, such as credit cards or payday loans, but will not include secured lending such as mortgages. Monthly repayments will be deducted from pay packets. Compass, which has a market capitalisation of nearly £32bn, pays 60% of its workforce at least £11.95 an hour in London, and £10.90 an hour across the rest of the UK. Along with the debt consolidation offer, Compass has committed to providing a free meal for each staff member who works a full shift. It has a hardship fund for any workers who are “particularly struggling”. Compass is also poised to offer a salary advance scheme allowing eligible employees to claim up to 50% of their earned salary before payday. “What we want to do is have that package so there is care,” Blakemore said.

Ted Kennedy – government needs to focus on bringing interest rates under control: Ted Kennedy, chairman of Dominion Hospitality, has told Propel the government needs to focus on bringing interest rates under control. He said: “Hospitality is tied to bricks and mortar and the sector has a freehold legacy. It means every increase in interest rates puts more and more pressure on businesses and homeowners – it's a massive amount of extra cash that people have to find. The priority has got to be stabilising interest rates. As a sector we will find a way through, but some will be lucky and others won't be. We will just have to ride it out – and we will. However, next year will be a bit painful.” Dominion now operates four sites – The New Inn and The Station in Gloucester, The Highwayman in Shepton Mallett and The Radstock Inn in Radstock – having sold seven of its outlets last year to RedCat Pub Company, the investment vehicle headed by Rooney Anand. Kennedy said the remaining sites were “trading well” and although the business has been working towards an exit for a few years now, it was in no rush to offload the rest of the portfolio. “We've had some offers for them, and although the property market is looking uncertain, we're in no hurry to sell,” he added. “We're very happy with what we're doing – we've got no bank debt, we're not burning cash and we're working with some great people.” Kennedy spoke after Dominion reported turnover of £1,934,000 for the year ending 28 March 2021 compared with £9,988,000 the year before due to trading restrictions caused by the pandemic and the disposal of sites. Pre-tax losses narrowed to £4,637,000 from £7,825,000 the year before. The business received £586,000 through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (2020: zero).

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a catering and event company that operates across the UK and is seeking an operations manager. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “You will take overall responsibility for catering across stadiums nationwide so therefore it is essential you have group or area management experience. You will be part of a senior operations team and will have exposure to all areas of the business.” The salary is up to £65,000 and the position is based nationwide. For more information, email marlene@corecruitment.com

Company News:

Collins – we want to maintain a decent level of volume growth as well as taking a little price: Nick Collins, chief executive of Loungers, has said ensuring the company’s offer remains good value for money and it is “not taking as much price as others” is key to the business continuing to “grow volumes in an environment where people may be tightening their belts”. Speaking to Propel after the company posted like-for-like sales growth of 17% in the 24 weeks ended 2 October 2022, versus the period 22 April to 6 October 2019. Collins also said the business hadn’t seen any softening in consumer spend to date. He said: “We want to maintain a decent level of volume growth as well as taking a little price. I believe ensuring we remain good value for money and not taking as much price as others is key to us continuing to grow volumes in an environment where people may be tightening their belts. Other than that, it’s constantly focusing on evolution and improvement – we service so many different occasions/categories/dayparts, there is always something we can improve or do better for our customers.” Last week, the owner of the Lounge and Cosy Club brands said it continued to “significantly outperform the market” and is on track to open 30 sites in its current financial year. Since the start of the financial year, the business has opened 11 new sites, comprising eight Lounges and three Cosy Clubs, taking its portfolio to 206 sites. The company said it expects to open a further 19 sites in the current financial year, including Francisco Lounge, which opens on Wednesday (19 October) in Haywards Heath, West Sussex.

Champion – young punters protecting Boxpark sales from consumer slowdown: Simon Champion, chief executive of Boxpark, has said young Londoners receiving inflation-related salary boosts has helped to protect the hospitality and leisure operator from a slowdown in discretionary spending. He told City AM the business has seen sales increase by double digits compared with the previous year, with sites in East Croydon, Shoreditch and Wembley “trading really well”. Champion, who took over from founder Roger Wade in May, argued Boxpark’s standard customer had perhaps even benefited from the current economic climate, compared with other pub and restaurant brands with older clientele. The company has reaped the rewards of a food-delivery trend, with the pandemic resulting in more people ordering breakfast from Boxpark vendors than ever before. Food delivery revenue has doubled across Boxpark’s three London sites, with its Wembley venue experiencing triple growth. Champion echoed calls from the sector for a VAT cut, yet stopped short at backing a reduction to 12.5%. Instead, he said slashing the tax rate to 15% would help the business from being forced to hike its prices again. Champion also called on the government to encourage electricity companies to offer six-month contracts, to match the government’s period of support for firms. The upcoming World Cup was set to be “bigger and better” than ever at Boxpark, with signs that waves of Londoners have already booked the first England match day off work. Boxpark plans to expand by around three sites a year, with sites in Bristol and Liverpool Street coming soon. Last month, the company, in which LDC acquired a majority stake in last year in a transaction that valued Boxpark at £40m, agreed a 15-year lease with Terracotta Asset Management for The Canning Hall site in the south of Liverpool city centre, for what will be its sixth site. “Going forward, [new sites] will be pretty even between London and major cities,” Champion said, signifying London would be very much at the heart of Boxpark’s expansion mission.

Farm Girl launches crowdfunding campaign to raise circa £400,000: Farm Girl, the London healthy eating cafe concept, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to aid the roll out of its eponymous brand and its new Roll Baby format. The business, which said it “survived the pandemic and came out stronger than ever”, has launched campaign through Seedrs with a goal to have ten Farm Girl sites and 25 Roll Baby sites operating across London by 2027. It has a target of raising £400,002, with 4.2% of equity offered and a pre-money valuation of £9m. The company, which recently opened a central production unit in Fulham, has so far raised about £270,000 from circa 40 investors. The business opened its first site in Notting Hill in 2015, with a second following two years later in Soho. Today the business, which is the brainchild of Rose Mann and Anthony Hood, operates five sites in total across the capital. Last year, the company launched Roll Baby, with the opening of a kiosk site in South Kensington underground station. The business said it brought in just under £1m revenue from June to August 2022, and grew its August year-on-year revenue by 114%. It has also reached a daily average of 800 customers per day across it six sites. It plans to add on average one all-day brunch Farm Girl cafe with 50-70 seats each year and four to five Roll Baby sites annually. The company said: “We have a strong pipeline of sites in various stages of development, with several already secured under agreed heads of terms. In our experience, opening a new Farm Girl cafe requires a total investment of up to £250,000, while the smaller Roll Baby sites require an investment of around £80,000 each.” Mann and Hood said the inspiration for Roll Baby came from the Vietnamese street food served in Melbourne, Australia. The concept serves eight styles of gluten-free rice paper rolls, which are freshly made each day, available with a choice of seven different sauces – costing between £3 and £6. 

Caffè Nero and Waitrose launch strategic partnership: Caffè Nero and Waitrose have launched a new partnership to offer customer benefits, reward loyalty and give a greater selection of premium “coffee at home” products to purchase in-store. The partnership will see Caffè Nero’s range of “coffee at home” products carried in Waitrose stores across the UK – with 20% off the normal price during November. Between 7 and 30 November, myWaitrose members will also get 20% off Caffè Nero’s “Coffee at Home” products. MyWaitrose members will also enjoy benefits in more than 650 Caffè Nero stores across the UK, while Caffè Nero app users will receive benefits in Waitrose stores. The free hot drinks offer for myWaitrose members also returns, including coffee using premium beans, crafted for Waitrose by The Nero Roasting Company. The hot drink offer will launch from 7 November, available across all 331 of Waitrose core stores, when myWaitrose members will be able to claim one drink every day when they complete a purchase at Waitrose. In addition, The two companies said the new partnership is one of the biggest of its kind between a supermarket and coffee shop brand. Will Stratton-Morris, chief executive for Caffè Nero UK, said: “Both brands are built on offering high quality premium products to customers with great service. It feels like a natural collaboration, and we’re delighted to be able to bring our roasting and blending technical expertise of the Nero Roasting Company to Waitrose as well as offer Caffè Nero’s ‘coffee at home’ retail products to Waitrose customers. There are huge possibilities with this partnership and it’s exciting to see where it can go.” Originally launched in 2013, the free hot drink offer was temporarily paused during the pandemic, but returned following a successful trial this summer. Non-myWaitrose members will also be able to purchase drinks – with tea from £2.25 and coffee from £2.35.

Fox – sales remain well ahead of pre-covid levels, sees ‘subtle mix shift’ between commuter and leisure traffic: Mark Fox, chief executive of motorway services operator Roadchef, has told Propel that current sales across the business remain well ahead of pre-covid levels, and it has seen a “subtle mix shift” between commuter and leisure traffic. Fox told Propel: “We saw a very strong rebound from covid as 2021 progressed and summer 2021 saw a number of trading records broken as the staycation effect remained strong. Trading has remained positive in 2022 albeit with some impact from Omicron in the first quarter but with further records broken during the peak of summer 2022 as the festivals returned in earnest, and currently sales remain well ahead of pre-covid levels. We're seeing a subtle mix shift delivering slightly fewer commuters (homeworking) and a little more leisure traffic, which is a positive shift from our perspective.” The business operates eight Leon sites across its 30-strong estate and plans to open around two per year going forward. Fox said: “We have opened two McDonald's drive-thrus, at Durham and Rownhams, since 2019 and we are working with McDonald's to add this additional channel in several more sites in the coming years – we have planning at Maidstone, which will be the next opening in the first quarter. We have been testing Coco di Mama in Norton Canes, which is proving particularly popular with families since the introduction of kids’ pasta pots from £2.49. We have also begun a roll out of a new format WHSmith, which we think leads the way on the motorways with upgrades completed at Sandbach South and Stafford South and several more in the pipeline for 2023. Our other ongoing investment is in self order kiosks across multiple brands to provide additional convenience and speed and to put the customer in control. We’re planning those for our Leons and more of our Costa units, where we already have some in test.” It comes as the business, which was acquired by Australian financial services group Macquarie earlier this spring in a £900m deal, saw revenue for the year to 2 January 2022 increase 58.4% to £180,900,000, with Ebitda of £43,500,000 (2020: £11,200,000). Pre-tax profit in the year stood at £14,200,000 versus a pre-tax loss of £37,500,000 in 2020. It reported a 59.3% growth in amenity building and drive-thru sales, with spend per transaction at £6.41 (2020: £5.78).

Rosa’s Thai appoints Jay James as new marketing director: Rosa’s Thai, which is backed by TriSpan, has appointed Jay James as its new marketing director, Propel has learned. James spent just over three years at Prezzo as its director of marketing and communications. Previous to that she had stints as interim marketing director at Gourmet Burger Kitchen and EAT. She also spent eight years at Pret, including three as its head of communications. The Gavin Adair-led business, which was founded in 2007 by Alex and Saiphin Moore, operates 30 sites. 

Wingstop secures Newcastle site, plans at least ten openings next year: Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out Wingstop across the UK, has secured an opening in Newcastle, as it looks to end the year with a 30-strong estate, Propel has learned. The company, which recently opened its largest site to date here under the US chicken brand, in Manchester’s Trafford Centre, has secured a site in the MetroCentre, with an opening planned before the end of the year. The business will also open in the former TSB Bank site in London Road, Southend, and in the ex-Limeyard site in Staines, over the next two months. Earlier this summer, Wingstop UK secured a new multimillion-pound debt facility to aid the further roll of the concept in the UK. It operates 25 sites here, comprising a mixture of bricks-and-mortar sites and dark kitchens. The company also has openings lined up in Brighton and Wood Green. The business told Propel that trading has been “extremely resilient” and it planned to open at least ten new sites next year. 

Cote appoints Amanda Nutt as new marketing director: Côte, the French brasserie chain backed by the Partners Group, has appointed Amanda Nutt as its new marketing director, Propel has learned. Nutt, who recently had a short stint as head of marketing at Getir, previously spent more than eight years at Heineken, including four as marketing manager for the global drinks brand. She also spent more than two years as a senior marketing manager at Whitbread, and two years as a marketing manager at The Restaurant Group. Nutt will report into David Murdin, who joined Cote earlier this summer as its new chief marketing officer. Propel revealed in June that Murdin, formerly of BA, Whitbread, Costa and Wagamama, had joined Cote. Later in the summer, Richard Tallboy, ex-chief information officer at The Restaurant Group, also joined Côte in the same role.

Greater London Hospitality to rebrand as Clermont Hotel Group: Great London Hospitality (GLH), the largest hotel owner-operator in London, has announced a “landmark move” to rebrand as the Clermont Hotel Group this autumn. The rebrand, which marks the culmination of £90m investment in the past four years, will see the company align more closely with its anchor brand, The Clermont. The business, which operates 19 hotels, said the move aims to “distinctly reposition the company within the travel, hospitality and leisure markets by streamlining and repositioning” a number of property assets under three key brands: The Clermont, Thistle and Hard Rock Hotel London. It also marks the company’s ambition for future growth beyond London, with a focus on major cities within the UK and across Europe. The group has indicated there is more investment planned across the portfolio in the coming months, following an initial £18m refurbishment of The Clermont properties in Charing Cross and Victoria. Jon Scott, chief executive at GLH, said: “This is a significant milestone for the company and marks the beginning of a new era. Clermont Hotel Group offers a rich and diverse portfolio for a range of guest needs, and our new strategy and vision brings them under one roof with more clarity than before. As the industry is still in recovery, we know there is a raft of opportunity to grow and develop as we tap into our guests’ needs. We know people will continue to travel and spend on great experiences, but will be more discerning about their choices. As Clermont Hotel Group we are a people-first business. Therefore to create our new vision we’ve worked closely with customer insights and our employees to ensure we are adapting to their needs, and delivering extraordinary experiences and services in a bold and impactful way.”

Burger King UK appoints Mike Williams as director of acquisitions: Burger King UK, the Bridgepoint-backed, Alasdair Murdoch-led business, has appointed Mike Williams as its new director of acquisitions, Propel has learned. Williams stood down earlier this year as head of acquisitions at Costa Coffee after nearly a year and a half in the role. Previous to that he spent almost a decade as property director at McDonald’s UK & Ireland. 

Peckwater Brands closes crowdfunding campaign with more than £15m raised: Peckwater Brands, the virtual food brands operator in which Stonegate Group has a stake, has closed its latest crowdfunding campaign with more than £15m raised. The company, which hit its crowdfunding target of £14.65m within hours of launching the campaign at the start of last month, has raised £15,020,022 from 239 investors. The business launched the campaign through Seedrs, offering 22.66% of equity, with a pre-money valuation of £50m attached. It had secured just over £3m of funding toward the new campaign pre-launch, but immediately secured two investments of more than £4m each as soon as the crowdfund went live. The crowdfunding money will be used to help the business, which currently has 175 outlets “from Aberdeen to Plymouth”, reach its target of becoming the largest kitchen network of any kind in the UK within two years; building an operating platform to make sure “our restaurant partners succeed in the delivery market”; and further establish its international presence.

Inn Collection Group completes second Welsh site purchase: The Inn Collection Group has completed its second acquisition in Wales with the purchase of The Bull in Beaumaris on the Isle of Anglesey. The Sean Donkin-led operator has bought The Bull and adjoining Townhouse boutique hotel in the seaside village of Beaumaris for an undisclosed sum, as it expands its pubs with rooms presence in North Wales. The acquisition takes The Inn Collection’s estate to 32 sites. Donkin said: “We’re delighted to be welcoming The Bull in Beaumaris into The Inn Collection Group family as we look to expand further across North Wales. The Bull had the same owners for more than 35 years and their dedication towards the property and attention to detail is clear to see. We look forward to continuing their commitment to the inn and its great team of people in the next phase of its history.” The 25-bedroom site – which includes Anglesey’s Coach restaurant and courtyard terrace, coffee shop, bars and meeting facilities – will continue trading under The Inn Collection Group’s “Eat, Drink, Sleep and Explore” concept. The Inn Collection acquired its first site in Wales – The Swallow Falls Hotel, hostel and campsite in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park – last year. The site is currently closed while careful restoration works of the building are completed. The Inn Collection said it is continuing to seek out new acquisition opportunities to grow its portfolio in Wales and northern England. 

Boujee's Chester branch saved in pre-pack deal by founding director: The Chester branch of Boujee, the north west bar and restaurant concept, has been saved in a pre-pack administration deal. All 32 jobs will be retained at the Pepper Street venue, which was the third site for the pink-themed concept, partly owned by Real Wives of Cheshire star Lystra Adams, when it opened in November 2021. Following financial difficulties, the directors took the decision to close the Liverpool Boujee in July, while the Manchester site was temporarily closed in September. Following the appointment of Lisa Moxon and Ben Barrett, of Dow Schofield Watts Business Recovery, as joint administrators, the Chester venue has now been acquired by one of the founding directors, Minesh Parekh. Moxon said: “The company's initial trading was positive, despite the covid restrictions, although during the lockdowns it made a loss, and as a new business was unable to access the majority of covid support packages available. In late 2021, the Liverpool venue was failing to achieve its expected turnover, which resulted in significant cash-flow difficulties. These were compounded by increases in food and drink costs, which could not be passed on to customers. Despite the closure of the Liverpool restaurant and efforts of the directors, the company's financial position has continued to deteriorate, with turnover continuing to fall. Having explored all the options, we believe the pre-pack sale is the best available outcome for creditors and employees. It will enable Boujee to continue to trade and build its profile in Chester while saving the jobs of the 32 staff.” Adams announced last month she was stepping away from the business, saying on Instagram she had “taken abuse in all forms for being the face of the companies involved” following problems that included staff walking out after not being paid in full.

Tofu Vegan to open third London site: Tofu Vegan, the London concept from Zhang Chao of Xi’an Impression, is to open a third site in the capital, in Spitalfields, Propel has learned. The plant-based business is understood to have secured the former Absurd Bird site in Commercial Street for an opening before the end of the year. It already operates sites in Upper Street, Islington, which launched last May, and North End Road, Golders Green. Propel revealed last month the parent company of Absurd Bird, the fried chicken brand, which went into administration earlier this summer, invested more than £8m in the business since it was founded in 2015. A report by FRP Advisory, administrators for Absurd Bird, said the five-strong restaurant business had been loss making since it started trading and had relied upon “substantial funding from the parent company”. The business was controlled by KBox Global and previously owned by Splendid Hospitality Group. Absurd Bird operated restaurants in Glasgow, Soho and Spitalfields in London, Exeter and Leeds. Emma Wright, of CDG Leisure, acted on behalf of Tofu Vegan, while Lewis Craig acted on behalf of the administrators on the Spitalfields deal.

Leon adds Ocado and Asda to grocery range: Natural fast food brand Leon, owned by EG Group, has expanded its grocery range, previously stocked just at Sainsbury, to Ocado and Asda. Leon's newly launched autumn range stew pots will sit alongside longer standing items like Aioli waffle fries and potato salad and LOVe burger slaw. The full range will be available in the new locations by the end of the month. 

State of Play Hospitality makes net zero commitment: State of Play Hospitality, the Toby Harris-led group, has made a commitment to reach net zero. The company said it would do so by abating all unavoidable emissions from its direct operations by 2030 and across its supply chains by 2040 while credibly offsetting residuals. To assist with its aim, the group has joined the Zero Carbon Forum, the first experiential leisure operator to do so. To deliver against its net zero target, State of Play Hospitality has already measured its current UK carbon footprint, enabling the group to build its roadmap to net zero. The group will be completing the same exercise across its US estate by the end of the year. In addition, the company has recently rolled-out across its UK venues an energy saving programme called “Save While You Sleep”, to reduce overnight energy use. Harris said: “As we enter our second decade of the State of Play journey, we are focused on reducing our carbon footprint as quickly as possible. Our commitment to net zero forms part of our wider environmental, social and governance strategy.”

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